Steel for knife making

I have been making knives for several years. I have used everything from files to old cross cut saw blades to hacksaw blades. Every now
and then I get lucky while at the local junkyard and find a piece that makes exceptional blades. Last summer, I found an old cross cut saw blade that must have been from the first half of the last centruy. It made strong blades with just a little flexibility that would sharpen up to a razor edge. They held their edge pretty well (not quite as long as a buck, but were sharpened differently). Most knives were set with antler handles. The few blades I made from files were strong but brittle (chipped) and consumed a lot of grinding wheel. I make mostly pelting/skinning knives and hunting knives. I am interested in hearing of any other experiences with blade making and what materials worked best. Also what you use for handles and how you mount them. Rider
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not making knives, but always kinda fascinated. I saw a report from someone mixing (by forging) old chainsaw chains and old blades. Made an very interesting pattern when etched.
Nick
--
The modular DRO
<http://www.yadro.de>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Have to correct myself: It was just chainsaw chains. The mix of the material made the pattern.
Nick
--
The modular DRO
<http://www.yadro.de>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

This is ON topic here, so don't let me discourage you from discussing this here, but you might also ask at rec.knives.
But to your question: I really like A2 for knives, made all my early work from it. It should be pretty easily available from any supplier that sells any kind of tool steel at all. If you have a local Crucible or Uddeholm dealer they would be good places to start, but I recently bought some stock from a local machine shop that does a side line in metal sales. Heat treat in stainless foil, soak at 1800 F, temper twice at around 430. Or take it to a heat treating shop, they all do A2. It isn't very stain resistant, but it is tough, a good edge holder, and takes a beautifully keen edge.
Adam Smith Midland, Ontario, Canada
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 31 Aug 2006 12:54:06 -0400, "Adam Smith"

Anyone know what they commonly make lawnmower blades from?
Old ones may be useful to the original poster, but I suspect they may be too soft for knife making. However I recently bent one back true and was surprised by how much force it took.
I would like to try making a custom blade around 18 to 20 inches long, 1/4 inch thick and without any airfoils. Not having the airfoils to suck up grass under a deck is the major reason. Want it for light duty weed and brush cutting. Any suggestions on what would work well and possible not need heat treating?
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

They are made to be not brittle, since they commonly hit rocks and concrete and they must not fall apart when that happens.
5160 and 5150 alloys.
http://www.efunda.com/materials/alloys/alloy_steels/show_alloy.cfm?ID=AISI_5150&prop=all&Page_Title=AISI%205150
i
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If using straight stock removal try "shredder" [PTO-powered rotary "lawn- mower"] blades.
These are 1/4" thick by ~2' long by ~4" wide and, once sharpened, will hold an edge almost indefinitely in spite of abuse.
Do NOT anneal or you'll lose the original temper.
Be prepared to go through a LOT of grinding wheels, though, as these things are TOUGH.
I've had my best luck using diamonds and working slowly to keep the metal cool.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 31 Aug 2006 19:59:19 GMT, "RAM"

I want to thank both of you for the suggestions/ideas.
Back to the knife making, I found this page where somebody made a BIG knife from a mower blade (fifth one pictured):
http://www.blacksmithrick.com/bladesmithing.html
knife only:
http://www.blacksmithrick.com/images/bladesmith/lawnmower-blade-sm.jpg
If you look close you can see the old mounting holes for mower use.
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If you can find a length of sawmill bandsaw blade all you'd need to do is to cut out the shape, drill what holes you'd need for the handle, and sharpen it.
While this would provide a thin blade, it'll cut well and be sufficiently flexible to not bend (permanently, that is) if caught in a bind. It'll also let you do a flush cut at ground level.
This type of bandsaw blade also makes good fillet knives.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wrap a wet rag around the cutting edges and cut the lift wings off of a stock blade, get the heaviest stock blade that has the proper arbor hole and length. When you sharpen it maintain 30 degree angle but flatten the very edge to be about 1/64th or so for durability. 30 degrees works out to the ground are being twice as wide as the thickness of the blade. Blunter will last longer when mulching Tonka toys and bocce balls. Leon Fisk wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

You are working files without annealing them?????????
Blink blink...wow..thats tough work.
heat em red hot..then stick em in a bag of vermiculite to cool slowly. THEN work em. Makes a huge difference. When finished..temper as needed.
Same thing applies when making an anvil out of a chunck of rail road track..bon fire..let cool slowly over night
Gunner
"If I'm going to reach out to the the Democrats then I need a third hand.There's no way I'm letting go of my wallet or my gun while they're around."
"Democrat. In the dictionary it's right after demobilize and right before demode` (out of fashion). -Buddy Jordan 2001
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Gunner wrote:

I haven't progressed to the heating and shaping stage. I just find a piece of steel, cut it out to rough shape with a saw then grind it to shape on my wheel. Nothing fancy, I started making them because I was too cheap to pay $40-$60 for a decent skinning/pelting knife every time I need one. Thanks for the advice, though. Where do I find vermiculite? I may try heating some files to do that while boiling traps next week. Rider
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You do know that he is talking about heating the steel to full cherry red. Your comment about boiling traps made me think you aren't in the right heat range, about a 1,000 degrees short
We just got a call from our local labor department. They are the ones who oversee asbestos work. Almost all of US Vermiculite comes from a mine in Montana? and has known quantities of asbestos. Vermiculite has just joined the list of controlled substances here. It is listed in zonolite roofing, core filled cement block, etc, etc.
Ain't life grand? I don't know how I managed to get so old with all the bad stuff out there. I had my feet measured at the shoe store with radiation, I've worked with transite sheathing, I've eaten bacon, I've scraped old paint off all kinds of things, I've washed out tools and brushes with toluene, MEK, and trichlor. The list goes on.
______________________________ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:
Old buggy leaf springs make a nice hunting knife, the axles are really good for a forged blade, nice thick stuff. I find old iron in the mountains around old ranches and mines. The old timers just pushed it over the edge along streams. Picked up a couple of lengths of drill stem this summer (hard rock drills) 4' x 1.25" hex. Want to bet that would forge into something interesting? I like iron wood from the desert in AZ for handles.
ED

-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
ED wrote:

That iron wood sounds interesting, I bet it's pretty. I've tried a few hardwoods from around here (Vermont) but haven't been thrilled with them. They look nice, but the wood soaks up grease and gets slippery. I've had good luck with some of my old deer antlers that were big enough to use as the complete handle (1 1/2 - 2 1/2 inch diameter) as the bases are usually pretty rough and give a good grip. I position the brow tine as a finger guard if possible. They also make good handles for pelt fleshers. Those leaf springs sound like they would work well. I don't know if I can find any around here. Our wet weather tends to rust everything away rather quickly. Thanks for the input. Rider
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Crazy glue and linseed oil makes a pretty good and quick finish for wood. I have seen it demonstrated, but have not actually used it. So you need to search for instructions.
Dan
Rider wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

http://homepage.mac.com/dbrock76/Menu8.html This guy is an old friend of mine. I scrounged up a bunch of good stuff for him this summer and put in an order for one of his shanghai blades. He gave me a drop point blade out of o1 and ebony that I hope to break in soon..on elk..I like his work.
ED
-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I've never done it but I'm told power hacksaw blades work well. If you're looking to use scrap material. Since power hacksaws are not really used any more you might find old blades on ebay.
wrote:

Thank You, Randy
Remove 333 from email address to reply.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Did I miss it or didn't anyone suggest OCS steel? Gerry :-)} London, Canada
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

A bit thin..but EXCELLENT for small blades or fillet knives
They do need to be annealed then worked though.
Gunner

"I think this is because of your belief in biological Marxism. As a genetic communist you feel that noticing behavioural patterns relating to race would cause a conflict with your belief in biological Marxism." Big Pete, famous Usenet Racist
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.